Making Connections with Pumpkin Seed Multiplication
When kids first learn about multiplication, it’s an alien concept. The best way to help them understand what multiplication means is to use manipulatives, and to introduce multiplication as a shortcut for repeated addition.
Pumpkin Seed Multiplication is a fun, seasonal partner activity that uses shelled pumpkin seeds to help kids make the connection between addition and multiplication. There are no Halloween images, so it’s appropriate any time of the year, and especially during the fall.
You don’t have to use actual pumpkin seeds for the activity; any small manipulatives will work, like dried beans, bingo chips, paper clips or base ten units. If you decide to use pumpkin seeds, you can purchase unshelled seeds at the grocery store or save the seeds from the pumpkin you carve for your Halloween jack-o-lantern. Wash them gently to remove the gooey strings and then dry them for a few days before using them in the activity.
Pumpkin Seed Multiplication includes directions for the teacher as well as student directions, the game board, and the number sentence cards. To introduce the game, pair each student with a partner and demonstrate how the activity works. Be sure to point out the connections between addition and multiplication as you demonstrate that the addition number sentences and the multiplication facts are two ways of representing the number of seeds on the pumpkins. After you model the activity with the whole class, you can use it in small groups or math centers.
By the way, Pumpkin Seed Multiplication is a variation of the Fishbowl Multiplication lesson in my book Mastering Math Facts: Multiplication and Division. That activity is similar to this one, but it doesn’t have a seasonal theme. Fishbowl Multiplication is just one of the many multiplication games and lessons in the book that will help your students develop a conceptual understanding of multiplication while also building speed and fluency with math facts. To learn more about Mastering Math Facts: Multiplication and Division, download this free 43-page sampler of the book. You’ll find several printable activities in the sampler that you can use with your students.